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Caulking was an age-old process for ensuring water did not penetrate the hull of a ship.

Caulking involves stuffing oakum (untwisted and shredded strands of old rope) into the seams between a ship’s planks, or elsewhere in the joinery of a ship’s decks or sides where it was necessary to prevent water entering.

After being rammed tightly into the seams, the oakum was covered with melted pitch or resin to prevent it from becoming waterlogged and rotting.

Caulking was obviously important task, and one that actually required a good deal of skill. Seamen who knew how to do it well were often specially assigned to do it.

Online Sources
  • Falconer, William, Online edition of William Falconer's Universal Dictionary of the Marine, or, a Copious Explanation of the Technical Terms and Phrases employed in the Construction, ...of a Ship...derived from the text of the London 1780 edition published by Thomas Cadell, 2004 edn, South Seas, http://southseas.nla.gov.au/refs/falc/contents.html. [ Details ]

Prepared by: Turnbull, P.
Created: 28 October 2001
Modified: 1 December 2001

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000090

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